A consortium of the Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA), Oxfam in Malawi and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), with support from the Delegation of the European Union to Malawi, is implementing a project called; “Enhanced evidence-based research to inform policy decision making in PFM.” The project falls under the “Chuma cha Dziko Programme”.
Evidence of gaps and weaknesses in the PFM systems in Malawi is well documented in literature (PEFA 2018). Some of the gaps and weaknesses include: poor budget credibility and fiscal indiscipline due to weak expenditure controls; incomprehensiveness and poor budget transparency due to the high levels of off-budget government spending; limited oversight from responsible state agencies and officers; limited availability of fiscal performance reports and related documents; weak links between planning and budgeting processes; weaknesses in internal controls, cash flow planning, and commitment controls, hence frequent budget deficits; weak accounting, recording and reporting frameworks of government financial transactions; weak scrutiny and audit frameworks, including weak follow-ups of audit findings amongst other things.
Against this background, the overall objective of the project is to contribute towards improved use and management of public resources through a PFM system that promotes transparency, accountability, fiscal discipline, efficiency and effectiveness. Different stakeholders have gathered anecdotal evidence on PFM which alone cannot serve as analysis for decision making. Hence, there is a need to move the collated evidence from the level where it is up to the analysis at the broader level to serve as evidence in the decision-making in public finance management. Thus, the project seeks to build robust evidence from available research/anecdotal studies on PFM to propose viable policy options for public discussion and consideration at the appropriate level of decision making in PFM system.
In light of the foregoing, ECAMA and its partners are organizing a research symposium that will provide a platform for sharing research findings on best fit practices alternative and viable policy options on PFM with the aim of influencing policy decision making in the country.
Objective of this call for papers
The objective of this call is to seek policy-oriented research papers, making use of available research and anecdotal studies, to provide alternative and viable policy options on PFM aimed at influencing policy decision making in Malawi.
The theme should be considered along any one of the following sub-thematic areas:
1. Strategic budget planning
• Multiyear planning
• Efficiency in service planning
• Feasibility of current budget framework in tackling PFM issues
• Solutions to common weaknesses faced in the budget planning process
• Allocation of resources based on expenditure policy priorities
2. Budget formulation
• Strategic Allocation
• Multiyear Budgets and Program based budgeting
• Establishment of medium-term performance frameworks
• Efficient alignment between policy priorities and fiscal resource allocation
• Coordination of Costed Strategic Plans and Annual Budgets
3. Budget execution
• Expenditure control measures
• Comprehensive budget transparency
• Sound Report and Accounting System
• Financial Compliance Mechanisms
• Adaptability to Changes in Macroeconomic Environment
4. Budget control and evaluation
• Debt and cash management practices
• Distribution of budgeting powers between various branches (budget classification)
• Procedures for resource prioritization
• Fiscal discipline
• Budget transparency reforms
5. Procurement Management
• Principles of Competition and Transparency
• Publication of Procurement Procedure Reports
• Establishment of Legal Frameworks and Code of Ethics
• Efficient and Agile Procurement Process
• Effective Procurement Accountability and Control Systems
6. Effective scrutiny and audit
• Role of policymakers in PFM issues
• Cheque and balance system
• Effective external audit function
• Revenue targets and collections
• IFMIS roll-out and account reconciliation
Proposed Structure of papers
It is expected that each paper will have the following structure:
Title of the study: topical issues drawing from the sub-thematic areas in the context of best fit practices alternative and viable policy options on PFM with the aim of influencing policy decision making in the country.
Background: the context of the research underlining the issues for which secondary literature, research, studies were used that necessitated investigations, existing gaps of knowledge that the research paper attempts to fill, stating clearly the problem/issue being investigated;
Objective(s): a clear statement of the specific research objective/s, the issues addressed or to be addressed. The Research questions or hypothesis that the paper attempts to answer;
Existing knowledge: a review of the relevant literature, and previous research on the issue under study including data, methodological approach, scope, parameters, and results among others. Also highlighting the existing policies on the research topic;
Methodology: a description of the research methodology including econometric and/or survey tools where applicable, a discussion of data requirements, sources, availability and data analysis tools and methods used and, where necessary, data collection strategy;
Results/Findings: a succinct discussion of the research findings and how they compare to findings of similar studies; and
Policy Implications: a detailed discussion of the value added to existing knowledge, and the policy relevance, including emerging issues/areas for future research and policy debate.
Full papers are now invited under the above different thematic areas. Submitted papers will be peer reviewed and the successful authors will be invited to make presentations at the PFM Research Symposium scheduled to be held on 21st and 22nd October 2021 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Submit full or draft full papers by 7th October 2021. Notification for acceptance of papers will be sent by 11th October, 2021.
Please submit in electronic form by email the papers in Microsoft Word to: